This shouldn't come as a surprise to you but I write short stories. In 2011 I think I wrote, all told, about thirty three of'em. Some 'Smitty' stories. Some 'Turner Hahn/Frank Morales stories; some 'Roland of the High Crags' fantasy stories.
I think the stories are fairly decent. Some are, in my warped sense of evaluation, just damn good. I thought I'd share one of them with you today. Called, "I'll Take Care of It." It's a Smitty story . . . a bit experimental . . . which I thought captured the dark soul of Smitty perfectly. It can be found in volume five of Call Me Smitty series entitled, Call Me Smitty, Something Deadly. I think I should be very pleased with the way this story came out. What do you think?
I'll Take Care Of It
In the dead of the night. An hour before dawn. The phone.
Suddenly demanding immediate attention.
The voice is quiet. Measured. Unhurried. Almost a whisper. But there’s something in the voice—something dark and lurking. Something deadly. Something incredibly deadly.
“Listen, Smitty. You got to stop him. Now—tonight! Before it’s too late. Jesus Christ, this is crazy. Fucking crazy!”
“Vinny. He’s gone nuts. Ever since that cop arrested his brother and sent him up to prison. He’s gone off his rocker. Got just enough alcohol in him to go nuts. He’s gone. Said he’s gonna make that fucking cop pay. Make’em all pay for screwing his brother over. Stop him, Smitty. Stop him before it’s too late!”
“Cop lives on Melrose. That’s all I know. But Smitty . . . listen. Vince says he’s going to kill the cop’s family first. One by one and make the cop watch. Took a friggin axe with him. He’s gonna chop’em all to pieces, for chrissakes! I’m tellin’ya, Vince has flat gone off the deep end!”
Click. The phone went dead.
Cold. Moonless. Fog drifting in off the lowlands. Over empty city streets Smitty drove the car. Black leather gloves on his hands. Black eyes as dark as the ocean abyss. In the darkness of the Caddy Smitty makes no sound. Makes no effort to hurry. Yet the drive across town went by effortlessly. The six or more traffic lights clicking green every one the moment he entered the intersection.
Fate, brother. Fate.
The Angel of Death is Fate itself when he slips through the night looking for his prey.
The Caddy rolls to a quiet stop behind a large red GMC van sitting in front of 11159 Melrose Drive. The passenger side of the van is wide open—hanging from its hinges in the night after being angrily flung open. Rolling out of his car Smitty makes sure each black leather glove is on tightly as he walks around the car and steps up onto the sidewalk leading to the low slung, long ranch house. Eyeing the house Smitty circles around to the back yard—and finds a sliding glass door leading into the dining room wide open.
Darkness litters the interior of the house like a heavy blanket. But it is as if Smitty sees everything in the night as easily as he does in the daylight. Sliding in soundlessly he moves through the dining room—through the living room—turning to enter the long hall which will take him to the bedrooms of the sleeping family.
Ahead to his left he hears the half snoring, half wheezing of a man. Lying on the carpet in the middle of the bedroom door is a toy stuffed animal. Vinny is in one of the kid’s rooms. Axe in both hands. Standing over the bed of a sleeping six year old blond waif. A tiny angel with a thumb stuck securely between her lips. Vinny leers. Vinny licks his lips, grips the axe firmly, and begins to lift it up and over his head. Suffer they will, this cop. Suffer and grieve for sending his brother to prison.
The axe, high in the air, vibrates with pent up rage as he gathers all his strength for the blow. With all his might he starts to hurl the axe toward the child’s face, the mask of a grinning madman alit in Vinny’s eyes.
From behind—from out of the blackness itself—a gloved hand reaches out and grabs the right wrist holding the descending axe blade. A grip as strong as the jaws of a Great White Shark. The gloved hand twists to one side violently and the pulls backward. The pain, flooding through the mind of the madman, is enough to buckle his knees and make him want to scream out in the night. But a second gloved hand comes out from nowhere, claps around his mouth, and yanks him back and away from the child.
In the darkness of the hallway they struggle. Angel of Death and Madness struggle. Veins on their necks and foreheads bulge. Twisting, staggering back, every ounce of strength both can muster being used to counter the other’s hold. The seconds move slowly by. The short coughs of sudden breaths hurriedly taken the only sound the two struggling forms make.
But it ends. Ends with a sudden—definite—finality.
There is a sharp Crack! Like the sound of a thick tree branch suddenly being snapped in two. Instantly one of the black figures in the hallway goes limp and starts to collapse to the carpeted floor. But the second figure catches the falling body, bends down suddenly before standing up. Over his shoulders is the dead form of Vinny. Lifeless. Never to bother another soul. Turning, meaning to leave as silently as he came, Smitty stops in mid-stride and stares.
In the hall—for how long?—the dark form of a small child standing in the middle of the carpet and staring up into the night at the black forms in front of him. In one hand the child drags a small blanket behind him. In the other is a baby bottle stuck firmly to his lips. For several seconds child and the Angel of Death laden with his prize stare at each other. Neither sound does one make. It is Smitty who moves first. Stepping around the child, the corpse of Vinny over a shoulder, he makes his way down the hall, through the living room and to the open patio door waiting for him in the dining room. Behind him the child follows dragging his favorite blanket with him.
Closing the sliding glass door behind him Smitty takes two steps away from the house—pauses—and turns to look back at the child standing in the house peering out into the night. For several seconds each observes the other.
And then a light far into the house explodes into life.
“Chuckie! Chuckie! Are you sleep walking again?”
A woman’s voice. A mother’s voice. Filled with worry and love. Hurry she does to find the child standing beside the patio door staring out into the night. She bends down, folds child into loving arms, and stands up. As she do her eyes turn to stare out into the darkness of the back yard.
Only darkness and the vague image of patio furniture and children’s toys littering the patio landing.
“Let’s put you back to bed, baby. There’s nothing out there, hon. No monster out there to bother you tonight.”
Sleep the sleep of the innocent.
Sleep knowing Fate has been kind, this night, to you and yours.
For the Angel of Death never sleeps.